Oracle Set For EU Showdown As Blind Call Ellison Lame - InformationWeek

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Commentary
12/8/2009
03:14 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Oracle Set For EU Showdown As Blind Call Ellison Lame

As Microsoft and SAP prepare giddily to hammer Oracle in Brussels this week, those two big and dominant global companies damn well better remember that they could be next on the EU rack because the EU's objectives aren't about "fairness"--they're about politics and power. Appeasing the EU now won't grant them sanctuary later--it will only embolden the bureaucrats of Brussels.

As Microsoft and SAP prepare giddily to hammer Oracle in Brussels this week, those two big and dominant global companies damn well better remember that they could be next on the EU rack because the EU's objectives aren't about "fairness"--they're about politics and power. Appeasing the EU now won't grant them sanctuary later--it will only embolden the bureaucrats of Brussels.In a glaring example of tortured logic, the normally sensible Dana Blankenhorn of ZDnet says the whole mess is Larry Ellison's fault: after all, if he'd just give the EU what it's demanding, none of this crap would be happening and Sun (and perhaps eventually Oracle) wouldn't be losing so much money! As Blankenhorn argues, just cave in, Larry--if you don't, whatever happens is your fault! As in:

Business, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and the impasse between Oracle and the EC, while highly entertaining and strangely satisfying in a nationalistic sort of way, is bad for business. And business is business. It's not romance, it's not war, it's not about feelings. It's just business.

Pride goes before a fall, Mr. E. A mySQL Foundation raises money, improves maintenance of the code base, and lets you make more money in the long run than winning a pissing match with the Eurocrats.

In a make-believe world, yes, that might happen, and everyone would walk away happy--or perhaps they'd even walk away hand in hand, giving each other their money and their code and their customers because, hey, it's all about fairness, right?

But I see that SAP is now on the docket as a witness for the prosecution. And just a couple of weeks ago, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka, who's playing more and more of a public role for the company, published a rather florid blog post in which he seized on the dynamics of the MySQL kerfuffle and made a case that another key Sun asset Oracle is looking to acquire--Java--should be a public entity as well. You can read all about it at Global CIO: SAP Tells Oracle To Free Java But Keeps Own Software Closed.

Where does this slippery slope lead? I'm not sure but my guess is the final stop is filled with lotsa fire and lotsa guys in red tights running around with pitchforks. What the EU wants--and what Blankenhorn, directly or indirectly, is advocating--is that the EU becomes the final arbiter of what is to be. The EU doesn't want Oracle to have MySQL? Then that's the end of the discussion! SAP whines to the EU about Java being under Oracle's auspices? The the EU will make Oracle get rid of it! What about the other open-source tools Oracle's had for quite some time, some of which work quite well with MySQL: maybe the new self-appointed rulers of the software world will decree that those, too, must be put in a "foundation" or "behind a firewall" or some of the other silliness that's surfaced recently.

But the one that really gets me is Microsoft's eagerness to muck it up with this crowd because Microsoft has its own long, ugly, and wasteful string of experiences with the EU over alleged anticompetition charges. As the Wall Street Journal reports, "Microsoft and SAP compete with Oracle and have already told antitrust regulators they oppose the merger. Both have been confirmed as speaking at a hearing Thursday and Friday in Brussels which will give Oracle and the merger's supporters and opponents an opportunity to give their opinions on the plans."

Does Microsoft really think that future outcomes for it will be good if it attempts to curry favor now with the EU by saying what a miserable scoundrel and unfair competitor Oracle is in the database market? Do they not see they are playing right into the grubby hands of the EU, which will see this as an endorsement of its future ability to threaten, bully, and intimidate companies to suit its market-detached whims?

Whether you like Larry Ellison or hate him, there is nothing good to be gained by plumping up the EU's ability to interfere with the private sector, manage "fairness," obstruct global competition, and handicap corporations for no better reason than that the EU has seized--or worse yet been given--the power to do so.

No, Dana Blankenhorn, Larry Ellison is not the one to blame here. There are lots of villains in this melodrama, but he's not one of them.

Give 'em hell, Larry!

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